Undaunted by tight fiscal times, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is recommending  a whopping 19% increase, to $37 billion, for the 2011 budget of the National Institutes of Health. That's far more than the 7% or so that FASEB typically calls for and flies in the face of President Barack Obama's plan to freeze domestic discretionary spending.
FASEB President Mark Lively explained the math today to reporters. The $6 billion boost takes into account the $10.4 billion in stimulus money that NIH received over 2 years, which will pump $4 billion into extramural research grants this year after infrastructure funds are subtracted. So FASEB is assuming NIH's current budget is $35 billion. Asking for a 5.7% boost, he said, will allow it to stay ahead of biomedical inflation (estimated at 3.3% in 2011).
The society is expecting NIH to get a "small increase" in the 2011 budget request to be released Monday, Lively says, making it an exception to what the Administration says will be a 3-year freeze on non-defense and entitlement programs. Congress typically sweetens the pot, and FASEB officials expect that to happen again. FASEB public affairs director Howard Garrison notes that NIH "has always had broad and strong support from a number of people in both houses" of Congress, including Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA) and Representative David Obey (D–WI), who chair the spending panels that oversee NIH's budget. Still, says Lively, "It's going to be a difficult year."
Another NIH booster, Research!America, has urged  the president to request a 13% boost in 2011, to $35 billion.